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July 2021

Scottish football eats itself


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By Tony Attwood

I keep writing about Rangers and football in Scotland because at each twist and turn it seems to me that the club’s position and the entire state of football in Scotland, is not always well analysed in the English media, and because most people interested in football in England don’t realise just how easy it is for the whole edifice of football to topple over.

You’ll have heard Rangers have been relegated to the Third Division – the 4th tier of the Scottish national league system.

Now various groupings are trying to get around this by creating a new league (SPL2) which could invite Ranger to join it, and so bypass the vote of the clubs.

And Neil Doncaster of the SPL has told the league clubs that the SPL won’t be able to pay the league clubs the annual £1.9 million settlement agreement because Rangers were not in the  First Division or the Premier League, and so the TV companies won’t pay up.

That payment failure means that the SPL will be insolvent.  So the Premier League clubs will then be forced to apply for membership of the Scottish League as there will be no Premier League.  C

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Meanwhile the SFA’s judicial panel still has to rule on what to do about Rangers, after Rangers went to court to challenge the SFA’s ruling that it could not sign any players over 21 for a year. The SFA also fined Rangers.  None of these matters is yet resolved and almost daily players are saying that they are leaving Rangers.  Rangers say that the players can’t because they (Rangers) have bought the rights to the players.  Under football law they might have done.  Under UK law they certainly have not.

Very few season tickets have been sold at Rangers, I am told, but if Rangers do play in division 3 and do manage to raise a team despite many of their current players leaving, they will presumably still get a decent crowd by selling tickets match by match.  But any players who do stay will still have to be paid their past salary.  And I am not sure Rangers was filling the stadium last season in the Premier League, so there is still a question of how many will turn up in January for a third division game of no consequence.

Oh yes, and the big tax case is still out there, with stories about who is going to be sued – famous names are spoken of – and who indeed is going to have to pay.

Meanwhile if the top clubs create SPL2 with Rangers and nine other teams they will then have to decide if they are within or without the SFA.  If outside then they would be outside all of football and Fifa would ban all players from playing from those clubs.
To solve this the SPL could offer Rangers a place in the top division, to stop the in-fighting and get the money flowing again, but it seems unlikely.
So we are back to the key issue: the Scottish Football Association must take a look at Rangers’ membership application as a third division club and then having given them that, start punishing them in relation to the court case that Rangers brought against the SFA all before the taxman gets going and the courts roll into action over fraud issues from the old Rangers.
But there is more.  Rangers were given a place in the bottom tier of the league – to which various clubs apply each year for places (just as in the old days clubs used to apply for a place in the 4th division – before England had automatic promotion from from the Conference to the 4th.)   So some smaller clubs are feeling a bit miffed.I am of course nowhere near the centre of Scottish football, but what I hear is that some of those small clubs are now thinking of legal action against the Scottish FA on the grounds that their application for a place in the third division were not heard alongside Rangers’ application.Personally I still like the idea of Arsenal II playing in the Scottish League under any banner or name.  No one else ever picks up on the idea, and obviously it won’t happen, but I still think it was a neat idea.


12 comments to Scottish football eats itself

  • chris from Cambridge

    Independence for Scotland …. Wahey !!

  • mark

    It would be better for Arsenal to have a club in Wales as the players in wales qualify as home grown and those in Scotland do not.

    Interesting that TV changes is going to bring down the league!

  • Gerry Lennon

    From my limited knowledge of following this saga, I think two points come out loud, but may be not that clear.
    1, I think starting in the 4th tier is the right and proper thing for ANY ‘new’ team applying to join the Scottish League. I think it was pure arrogance that the new owners of the now defunct Rangers FC should/would be able to by-pass this? They clearly never thought it would happen when they challenged the first ruling, which many thought was pretty lenient for crimes committed by the previous owners.
    Following on from that ..
    2, Who will be sued, and how likely is anymoneywill be forthcoming? Assets of previous owners/directors who where aware/colluding/doing the swindling should have been the first action. Clubs who are now going to miss out on revenue clearly have a case, as the Scottish League are carrying out the wishes of the SPL that the rules should apply in this case.
    Obviuous, but not clear cut?
    Other matters, like players not signing up for the new club will be settled, like the Bosman case, in the players favour if any justice can be seen to be done?
    What is clear, and should be made clear to all clubs in the UK is that if you buy into it as a business, make sure the ‘goodwill’ that carries much of the vale of the club should be maintained. Otherwise your ‘asset’ will not be woth anything like what you paid for it. Of course, the mega-rich can afford such losses with their playthings??

  • bjtgooner

    There is no doubt the Rangers have created a real mess and thase persons responsible, who now all seem to have left the club, should be subject to criminal proceedings.

    However, the desire of the administrators of the SPL to punish Rangers to the Nth degree seems over pedantic, especially when the same administrators must have had an idea that something was amiss – for quite some time. Do Rangers deserve to be punished – yes they do – but is the level of punishment correct – I’m not sure sbout that.

    What I am sure about is that the SPL are leading themselves towards financial suicide.

  • DarthWenger

    At least they won trophies unlike our beloved club – Out Kroenke, In Usmanov!

    (being totally sarcastic BTW)

  • Stuart

    Further to Gerry Lennon

    I think it as a cheek and sheer arrogance to expect to join higher in the league. If it is a new club (but same name) then they need to do what the rest of us would do and work their way up from the bottom. If they are allowed to work as a continuation of the old Rangers, then I’d like them to also have to see out the old Rangers liabilities too.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Pay and stay is the answer I think.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    What amazes me is that this sort of thing is clearly possible south of the border and yet no-one wants to acknowledge it.
    Take Manchester United. Even without a tax case looming over them, they still have a squad that needs significant investment in as people point out, a seller’s market. The finances there are stretched as it is. If they don’t plough some money in, the turnover may drop and the whole thing could come crashing down.

  • Ong Bing

    Will they sell their trophies on eBay to raise money?


    Sad story, a big club, but not too big to fall!

  • the SPL is about as bright as that dumb-ass olympic coach, stuart pearce. take one of your best assets in terms of crowd pull and show it the door then try to stand tall having shot yourself in the foot.

    why would an entire league punish themselves for the transgressions of a few bad men? i agree with standing on principle as much as the next man, but faced with starvation while marooned on an atoll, i would eat the queen’s pizza delivery. there are times when your stance on principle has to be taken in context. the SPL without rangers will be a one team wonder. who wants to watch that?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Dropping Rangers to the fourth tier is the daftest punishment they could come up with.
    In retrospect – invalidate the registration of Ranger’s playing staff (this may already have happened.) Ban them from signing any players over 21 till next season. Watch Rangers turn up at the other SPL grounds with a youth team and take a potential battering from ALL the other teams. There are probably some good youngsters who could do with a run in the first team and by the end of season I suspect Rangers would be doing ‘alright’ but not troubling the top of the table.
    That would give the other SPL teams a nice slice of revenge whilst keeping the TV people reasonably happy. The current situation just means that the old Rangers gets to keep inflicting more misery on the rest of the league whilst the new Rangers goes on about their business.

    PS Spot the pun above for extra points.

  • Notoverthehill

    The Chairman of the Scottish Premier League were told by the fans that sporting integrity must be upheld!. Clyde FC are a club owned by the fans. The players received about £20.00 per match played. As one Chairman said “It was not Kofi, but Annan that spoke” or words to effect.

    Regan sent an e-mail to selected personnel, setting out the scenario for Sevco (repeat NOT Rangers), to be shoehorned into the Scottish Football League 1. Doncaster (or Donkey), another Englishman BTW, threatened the SPL Chairmen, with a SKY TV shortfall of about £16 millions. A blatant lie!

    Sky will continue with the 2 years to run contract despite the loss of the Old Firm games. At £18 millions, the contract is a steal year-on-year, for 4 years. Doncaster has proved himself, as not being fit for purpose.

    If Doncaster had any negotiating skills, the Sky TV deal should be worth in the region of £30 – £40 millions over the 4 years. With a 25 – 30 man full-time playing pool for the clubs outside Celtic and Rangers, on a salary scale of £1000/£1500 per week, the annual wage bill is about covered!